Saturday, April 30, 2011


It appears that both Kate and I have rotavirus.  Both of us woke up this morning feeling pretty crappy and unable to keep anything down.  Kate has it worse, coming out both ends.  I'm reliving pregnancy symptoms all over again (not to worry, I am most certainly not in the family way).  Unfortunately, the food items recommended for Kate (pedialyte, rice, O cereal) is not met with a lot of enthusiasm.  She absolutely will not do ice chips so Len's been spoon-feeding water into her all day.  She managed to keep some Os down for a while so we went to rice and then some carrots which Dr. E recommended but they came back up immediately so we are back to spoon-feeding water. 

The snag in all of this is that Len absolutely has to go into work tomorrow and Monday.  It's the one time all year that he must be on call and we've known about it for months so of course this is the weekend that I will be parenting horizontally.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Blue lips?

We've had the oddest 2 days here in Kate-ville.  Yesterday began when Kate was still asleep at 8am and we needed to leave the house in 45 minutes to make our 9am Thursday playgroup.  Len went into Kate's room and roused her and she was TOTALLY NOT HAVING IT.  Cranky would be an understatement.  Mind you, she had been asleep since 7pm Wednesday.  You would think 13 hours would be enough sleep in one night.

So, she had breakfast and off we went for playgroup.  Kate played well for about 45 minutes or so, had some banana bread and milk and then decided she was through.  She found a toy she liked, plopped onto my lap and stayed there for the next 15 minutes.  I think the weather (which has been rainy, chilly and decidedly inhospitable for much of April) was finally catching up to our babies as all four of them started to melt down around 10:15, a full 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

We took our leave, came home and Kate kept saying, "night night" over and over again and doing the sign for tired.  Following her lead, I put her in her crib for a nap.  The silence lasted a full 3 minutes and then she popped right up and started running through her list of words...

AAaaaaa  CHOOOO!
Mama!  Mama! Mama!
Dadn?  Dadn? Dadn?
Book Book Book!
E-I E-I-O!

After 15 minutes of this I went in and discovered what I usually discover when I put her down for a nap; a fully-loaded diaper.  A quick change, more signing from Kate that she is tired and more "night night" so I put her back into her crib for another attempt.

She played for 45 minutes until I went in and found another fully-loaded diaper.  After another change we headed into the kitchen to have some lunch which she summarily dismissed.  Not one bite.  It's now 1pm and she hasn't eaten anything since 10am.  Even her favorite go-to food, swiss chard, (I know, right?  You were expecting something sweet perhaps?  Meet Kate: bitter vegetable lover) is not working.  She keeps insisting "night night" and giving the tired sign so I fix a bottle and we make Nap Attempt #3 which surprisingly works.  For just under 2 hours.

She wakes cranky, with yet another fully-loaded diaper.  I'm thinking she must surely be hungry by now, she's emptied the entire contents of her body in the last three diapers.  But a snack is refused and she's still really cranky.  We play some quiet games on the rug and then she wants to read books which we do for all of 5 minutes.  By now it's 4pm, she's had no snack and supper is usually at 5pm.  I ask her if she's hungry and get a firm "NO!"  Then she starts crying.  And by crying I mean WAILING.  Sobbing.  Uncontrollable, hiccuping, sobs.  For no reason that I can fathom.

FOR THE NEXT 45 MINUTES.  Nothing that I do works.  Food, milk, water, another diaper change, distraction, singing.  Well, singing did work for a minute, until I forgot the words and started humming.  NOT GOOD ENOUGH MOM!  So I fumble around in her books until I find the words to the song I was singing and finish the song.  And then realize that I cannot finish the song if I want her to stop crying so I keep singing.  She finally calms down enough for me to lay her on her changing table and massage her belly for a bit which soothed her for probably 3 minutes.  Then she starts up again.  I take her temperature: 100.6.  Not really that high since all of the signs (loose stools, low fever, not wanting to eat) indicate teething.  And although she already had 2 teeth break through in the past 2 weeks or so, her gums are swollen where teeth have not come in yet.

I head out to the kitchen thinking she must be hungry and make another attempt at feeding.  Nope.  Screaming ensues.  Out of the high chair and instead I perch her on the counter and try to entice her with zucchini (another favorite).  She did manage 3 bites before making gagging noises and I thought for sure she was going to vomit.  She continued this anytime I approached her with food from that point on.  So I asked her if she wanted to go to bed and she said, "night night".  Another bottle (she did gulp down 6 oz of milk), skip the bath, into jammies and into bed where she fell fast asleep at 5:20pm.

I told Len when he got home 10 minutes later to be prepared for a wakeup call sometime during the night as I was sure she was going to be hungry.  We were both surprised when she was still asleep when we got up.  She finally woke up at 7:30, happy and hungry...with a full 14+ hours of sleep behind her.

So, at this point you're probably wondering, "what's up with the blue lips you mentioned?".  Well, while Kate was eating her Oatmeal and Zucchini Delight, we noticed that her lips kept turning blue.  But then it would disappear just as quickly.  By the time Tricha came over at 8:30 she was done with breakfast but I kept thinking they were looking a bit blue.  Then she pinked up and seemed fine the rest of the morning, if rather subdued and untalkative. 

Tricha took Kate to the park but called me around 11am to tell me Kate had gone down for a nap at 10:45 with no bottle, no snack, no nothing.  Just said, "night night", signed "tired" and laid down.  She slept for 3 hours.  Those of you who are regular followers know that something is not right in Kate-ville when she is not only sleeping 13-14 hours overnight AND taking naps.  Tricha and I were both here when she woke up so Tricha fed her lunch and noticed that her lips turned very blue while she was eating.  Tricha thought since her lips were blue that she must be choking so she quickly swept the small piece of pb&j sandwich out of Kate's mouth which caused Kate to start wailing.  No choking there--she had plenty of breath to cry and let us know that was not a popular move.  But her fingers looked a bit blue as well... 

Quick call to the doctor lead to a quick visit to the doctor which lead to....nothing.  Kate pinked up, did not turn blue for Dr. Ettner and in fact, charmed him by running through her words and then dancing while he sang "Wheels on the Bus" to her.  She did such a turn-around in her demeanor in the 20 minutes we met with him that she was a totally different baby--she was back to her normal cheerful self. 

He checked her heart, her lungs and her pulses. Checked to see that her circulation was giving all the correct indications of being in working order.  She cried a bit during the exam of her feet pulses which turned out to be good b/c the stress of crying could turn her lips blue if she were having trouble breathing or if her heart were straining, but that didn't happen. 

So now we are to watch her for any signs of blueness and if we see it, he will call in an order to Children's Hospital so we can take her in for more extensive testing on her heart and lungs. 

In the meantime, she was back to her old self once we got home, eating a large supper of salmon, kale and carrots.  Played in the tub, read books and went happily to bed at 7pm. 

So.  Anybody out there ever heard of this?  Google search only revealed that the drug in teething medicine, benzocaine, can turn lips blue.  Problem is, we haven't given her this in at least a week. We'll let you know what happens this weekend...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

4 year LID

Today marks 4 years since our dossier was sent to China.  My how dusty it must have been.  But somehow they found our file once we accepted our referral for Lucy, dusted it off and accepted our acceptance.  So hard to believe that this will be the last year that I will have to look at this date come and go.  Next year I won't have it marked on my calendar.  I will have new days marked.

Like Lucy's birthday.

Like the day we got to hold her for the first time.

Like the day we brought her home to Chicago.

Like the day we went to court to re-adopt her in the US.

Like the first time she says Mama or Daddy.  Or smiles spontaneously at us.  Or any of the other wonderful things that will come with having Lucy join our family.

But April 27, 2007 will no longer be part of that.  Good riddance.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fun with Stickers

In my defense, it's been rainy and nasty out, Kate has not napped for the past 6 days and Ms. Tricha is on week 2 of vacation. 

In Florida. 

Where it's sunny and warm. 

And posting pictures of sunny, warm beaches on FB. 

So I get my entertainment anywhere I can these days...
She won't even remember this when she's older.  Right?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sitting is a new skill

Many times throughout our days together, Kate grunts and points to her pink Bumbo chair and "asks" me to put her in it where she sits for maybe 2 seconds before grunting and raising her arms to be helped out.  Last week, when she was done with her one hour rest (re: no nap again), I decided this would be a good time for me to lounge on the couch and see if she could work it out on her own.

Here's the first attempt:

The exasperated sigh at the end signifies that I would have to get up or risk dislocating Kate's shoulder trying to pull her out. 

So on the second attempt Kate had mastered rolling out of the chair but was still having some difficulty getting in.  Combine that with her fastidious nature (re: lint was IN HER CHAIR--OMG GET IT OUT!) and things went awry from there.  And, again with a potential boo-boo, Kate whacked her face on the edge of the seat.

Finally success!  Crisis averted with no facial bruising and shoulders both still intact, we tackled the chair for a third time.  They do say the third time's the charm...

I especially love that she claps for herself after every dismount.  Quite charming.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bunnies and Jade Buddhas

Easter weekend was fun-filled and jam-packed.  Ms. Tricha is on a long vacation to sunny FL so Kate and I had a rare Friday to get together with Candice and Antara (Candice takes Fridays off work).  The day was decidedly cold and rainy but we ventured downtown to have an early visit at Candice's condo.  The girls played while Candice and I got caught up on each others lives. 
Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day, warm and sunny, so we headed to brunch with our friend Greg.  After a stroll through a couple of Clark Street shops we headed home for a nap that everyone but Kate wanted to take. 

She's back to her sporadic napping (naturally, because I just, JUST, raved about her napping in my last post...).  She only napped twice last week and at the moment we are on Day 4 with no nap.

So, on to today, Easter.  Our neighbors downstairs "hid" eggs in our front yard for Kate and their daughter Zadie, who is 2 months older than Kate.  The girls hunted eggs in the morning and the rest of the neighbors in our building joined in the festivities.

Here's Zadie with an egg.
 Kate in her ears ready to start the hunt.  Wheez, recognize the dress?  It was perfect for Easter!
 Daddy helped her find a lot of eggs!
 The girls surveying their bounty.
Jen opening an egg to reveal a surprise of cookies inside!
Kate quickly threw off her ears so that Daddy could wear them...
We all gathered to admire the newest neighbor, 3 week old Patrick.
Len and I hosted a potluck Easter brunch afterwards.  We made a ham with roasted potatoes and asparagus and some bunny cookies.  Our neighbors filled in with champagne, fruit salad and a lovely savory bread pudding.
Kate was exhausted after all the activity so we put her down for a nap but alas, she popped right up and continued to do so for the next hour so we bagged it again and decided to visit the Jade Buddha which is on a World Tour of Peace right now and happens to be at the Buddhist temple a few blocks from our house. It is quite an impressive sight and the temple grounds were packed with primarily Vietnamese and Cambodians praying and making offerings. 
Here's a short video to give you an idea of the atmosphere!

I have to say that this is the first Easter Sunday I've spent at a Buddhist Temple.  The smell of pho soup and incense, the flowers, the cacophony of languages and songs, the monks in their robes...it was a feast for the senses!  And the Buddha itself was quite magnificent to see in person.

Afterwards we headed a block away to one of our favorite parks so Kate could run around and play.  She loves her new-found freedom to roam the park and now cannot be bothered with the swings.
We warmed up in the coffee shop nearby and then headed home.  After smelling pho all afternoon we couldn't resist for dinner so we got some takeout nearby after we put Kate to bed. 

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 22, 2011


Now that Kate has learned to walk well, sleep and napping have improved markedly.  As in 2+ hour naps on most days.  As in, I can eat lunch and read or write or just pee ALL BY MYSELF. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New update on Lucy!

We were sent new stats and a new picture of Lucy last night.

These are her new measurements as of 4/18/11 (with her measurements from 3/23/11 in parenthesis):

Weight: 23.36 lbs (22.48lbs)
Height: 29.52" (29.13")
Head: 45.5cm (44.3cm)
Teeth: 10 (9)

For comparison with Kate on 3/10/11 (and remember, Kate is 6 weeks younger than Lucy):
Weight: 21 lbs
Height: 30.25"
Head: 44cm
Teeth: 8

And a new picture! Just look at the yummy goodness of her!
The best part in receiving this: Kate was sitting in my lap when I opened her picture and without me saying a word, Kate pointed to the screen and said, "DOODCY!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A tad more clarification on what remains before we can bring Lucy home

Yesterday's filing of the I-800A was a big step forward as I mentioned but there are still numerous steps remaining (re: lots more paperwork).

There are several steps to the I-800A approval process. We just FedEx'd our file to the NBC (National Benefits Center) in Texas, where it takes 2-3 weeks to be transferred to the NBC office in Missouri.

Basically, the office in Texas cashes our check and then mails our paperwork to MO. And that takes 2-3 weeks....really? Are they still using abacuses and pony express?? Couldn't we have wired the money to TX and mailed the forms directly to MO ourselves?

Is that crickets I hear? Or just the glacial pace of my tax dollars at work?

Then we will then be sent a fingerprint appointment invitation.

I love that it's called an "invitation". Sounds so polite, as if you have the "option" of whether to attend or not.

Once our fingerprints have been taken it can be roughly 2-4 weeks until we receive our I-800A approval (which will then be called an I-797). Once we receive this, our agency can then send in our I-800 (which is different than the I-800A...)application to the NBC.  Once our I-800 has been filed the travel timeline is 11-15 weeks.

During this 11-15 weeks, the following is happening.

Typically, the timeline for the I-800 approval is 2-3 weeks. Once our agency receives our approved I-797 and I-800, they will FedEx it along with our DS 230(which is additional paperwork we must complete through our agency's travel department) to their representative in Guangzhou, China.

Roughly 7-10 days after receiving our approved I-800, we will receive our NVC Letter, which we will then copy and forward to our agency so that they can forward to their representative in China who will then walk-in all our papers to the US Consulate in Guangzhou.

It then takes approximately two and a half weeks for our Article 5 to be issued. Once this happens, one of their representatives in Guangzhou will pick it up from the US Consulate. Our Article 5 is mailed by the Rep in Guangzhou to our agency's office in Beijing. Then, the Beijing office will hand-deliver our Article 5 to the CCCWA(that's the Chinese agency in charge of the orphanages and thus, our daughter) and 2-4 weeks later our agency receives our TA (Travel Approval).

After our agency receives our TA, the travel department will then ask the US Consulate in Guangzhou for our consulate appointment. This process can take 2-5 business days.Once the travel department receives our consulate appointment, travel arrangements can be made.

Easy peasy!

Am I right?

All this to say that we really have no control over when we will travel. The actual trip dates hinge on the consulate appointment. Once that is made, the rest of the trip is built around that one time slot. Doing the math with the largest numbers given above (8 weeks for I800A approval and 15 weeks for the rest) it looks like September. I refuse to do the math with the best-case scenario numbers b/c I really don't want to watch that date come and then go.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Big step forward!

We received approval from IL DCFS last week and then our homestudy needed to be vetted by our agency, CCAI,  in Colorado.  We received their approval yesterday so today we officially sent off our I-800A to USCIS.  We then have to wait for, yep, another fingerprinting appointment.  If only this weren't true it really would be comical.  What makes it truly NOT COMICAL IN THE LEAST is that it has cost us another $890 payable to our lovely Department of Homeland Security for the privilege of being fingerprinted for the fourth? fifth? sixth? time and for filling out the EVEN MORE PAPERWORK THAT BASICALLY SAYS WHAT WE TYPED OUT ON THE PREVIOUS FORMS.  If I had even just a dime for how many times I have written my name, address, date of birth and social security number since we started down this road in 2007 I could have paid for this adoption and probably another one.

Sorry.  Just needed a place to vent.

So!  (she says with a RIDICULOUSLY BRIGHT SMILE!!!!!)  I-800A and Supplement 2 filled out.  Check for $890 attached.  Current notarized homestudy with IL DCFS approval letter attached.  Previous notarized homestudy from 2007 attached.  Copies of birth certificates and marriage license attached.  All of the above Fed. Ex'd today.

Now we wait some more.  Possibly up to three months....

If the worst case scenario happens and it is another 3 months, it should take another month or two to file and receive approval for the I-800 which means we may be traveling in September.  Until we receive the I-800A approval (otherwise known as the I-797) and our TA (travel approval) from China, we won't know anything for sure about when we will actually leave for China.

In the meantime, we are working on getting our immunizations up to date, filing out more paperwork for travel, getting more forms notarized and staring at Lucy's picture, wondering if she is ok and what she might be doing at that particular moment in time (which is probably sleeping since she is 13 hours ahead of us).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another busy weekend

Saturday was cold, rainy and gloomy so we packed everyone up and headed to the 'burbs for some shopping.  First stop was Ikea where we purchased a crib for Lucy.  Good thing is that it can convert to a toddler bed when she's older.  It's not set up yet so I have no pics to post. 

Next up was Buy Buy Baby where we perused double strollers.  I really don't want a double-wide as they tend to take up the entire sidewalk (and in the city that can get you a lot of dirty looks and muttered terms like "BREEDER" if you are in a particularly crowded area).  They also won't fit through a lot of doors or aisles in the smaller shops nearby.  And I can only imagine how impossible it would be to push one through snow.  Top it off with a tiny vestibule in our building in which to store it and we are left with few options.

We looked at the Phil and Teds which I am not real keen on b/c one child is always shafted by having to sit in the back, kind of crunched up.  This might work well if our kids were spaced farther apart in age but they are only 6 weeks apart.

That has led us to the City Select double stroller seen in this video.  The doubles part of the video starts around 6 minutes in if you are interested.  My only concern is how heavy it will be to push once it's loaded with 2 toddlers and again, the snow issue.  The Phil and Teds has the benefit of air-filled tires and only one tire on the front which is much easier to maneuver on rough sidewalks or down a narrow snow-shoveled path. 

Anybody have any experience with either of these or with a different stroller that isn't a double-wide?  If so, please feel free to share!

Sunday dawned windy and cool but sunny so we headed over to Kelly and Keith's in the afternoon for a bbq.  M and Kate had a lovely time playing in the backyard.  This was Kate's first time walking on grass.  She had a bit of trouble navigating the changing terrain but she seemed to enjoy it.
M brought out her yard toys to share with Kate. 
The bubble machine was a big hit.
The smoked jalapeno stuffed with pork butt, cream cheese and wrapped in bacon were a big hit with the adult crowd!
After feasting on these little gems, we headed inside for more play before tucking into pulled pork sandwiches, slaw and baked beans.  Top it off with banana pudding for dessert and I'd say Kelly and Keith can host bbqs anytime!

We woke this morning to snow on the ground.  Grrr.  Spring needs to be a touch more aggressive with Old Man Winter.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New blog worth mentioning

I have seriously cut back on my blog reading which is a sadness all by itself.  With all of Lucy's paperwork to fill out, budgeting and shopping for her imminent arrival (crib, double stroller, another carrier, cleft bottles, etc) I just don't have the time to keep up with them anymore.

But, this blog is written by a black man who was adopted into a white family.  In America.  Back when this country could never even conceive of, much less nominate, a black man for the Presidency.  And it's one of the few blogs I've found written from the perspective of an adopted child, not a joyously happy adoptive parent.  His writing gives voice to some of the unexpressed fears we PAPs have about adopting trans-racially.  But he also gives hope and shines a light on what a child in that situation needs to hear from his parents.  It's comforting to know that although he still battles low self-esteem and feelings of rejection, he has turned out well and whole and remarkably strong enough to discuss those feelings and provide a map to those following in his path.

I will add his link to the blogroll over on the right side of this blog in case you are interested in following him.

On another note, I am happy to report that of the few blogs I still stalk, 4 of my former Nepali PAPs have received referrals from other countries!  2011 seems to be a better year overall.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lucy Care Package 1

I love that our agency provides us with Lucy's orphanage address so that we can send her small gifts while we wait.  In this package we included:

*A letter (in English and Chinese) to the orphanage director introducing ourselves as Lucy's parents.  It explains that we would like it if the nannies could take some pictures of Lucy on the disposable camera we provided.
*A copy of our pre-approval letter so that they know we are indeed approved to adopt her!
*A blanket that I've slept with for a couple of weeks so it will have our scent on it.
*Some chocolate Easter bunnies for the nannies.
*A cute spring outfit for Lucy.
*A purple stuffed hippo.
*A small photo album with pictures of us labeled in both English and Chinese so she can start to become familiar with our faces.
*A disposable camera with Lucy's picture on it so they will know who the camera belongs to and hopefully, return it to us with lots of pictures when we receive Lucy in China.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trip back to DC!

We flew to DC for a long weekend a few days ago.  The last time we flew somewhere Kate managed to pee and poop on me before we made it to the airport in Chicago. I usually just carry her in the ergo since we have a driver take us to the airport (surprisingly it costs the same as driving our own car and paying for parking) and there is no carseat installed. This time Kate threw up on both of us.  This is the first time Kate has ever thrown up anywhere so I guess she needed it to be a memorable event.  Having learned my lesson last time I had a spare shirt for me and a spare outfit for her.  James pulled the car over before we got to the terminal so I could change both of us in the backseat.  Thank goodness for tinted windows!

We originally were going to see Kate's Yia Yia and Papou but then it turned into a goodbye trip for Kate's uncles who moved to Singapore on Sunday.  We managed to squeeze in a few visits with friends in between.  It made for a whirlwind trip and we missed seeing a good many friends but I fear we would have to be there for weeks to see everyone we would like to.  If only we still had a place to hold our Annual Mardi Gras party then we could see everyone at once!

We arrived Friday afternoon and Len dropped me at Paivi's apartment before heading to Don and Katherine's.  She was in town from Houston and this was the first chance we had had to see each other since we both had babies.
 Kate found Little Euan fascinating.
We managed to squeeze in a couple of hours catching up before Len picked me up so we could go to dinner with Katherine, Don and Greta.  I'm still bummed we did not get a picture of Kate with Greta and her dog Sam.  Kate spent the evening staring at Sam and saying Woof Woof!

Saturday morning Katherine and Don generously prepared a feast of spanikopita, baklava, and mimosas for our friends Sharon, Doug, Maggie and Steve.  They drove in from the VA suburbs to spend the morning catching up.  I ran the Marine Corps Marathon 13 years ago with Maggie and Sharon.  It was so great to see them!
Saturday afternoon found us in Chinatown with Spiff and Paul.  Kate finally napped as they shopped for last minute items before their flight to Singapore the next morning.
Saturday evening found Katherine and Don again hosting, this time our friends Spiff and Paul, on their last meal in the U.S.  We will so miss them--Spiff has been my surrogate little brother for about 15 years now.  We are really hoping they can fly up to China when we travel to pick up Lucy!
Sunday morning we headed across the Potomac to Roddy and Gretchen's house. They prepared a lavish feast of bloody marys and German pancakes.  They have three adorable children and their oldest, Pilar, spent a great deal of time keeping Kate entertained.

After our visit we headed over to our old 'hood to see if any of our neighbors were around.  As luck would have it we got to see everyone and all their kiddoes!

Here's Jerusha with Kate.
 And here's our old gang!
We headed back into DC late in the day for a feast of rockfish, asparagus and broccoli rabe that we had shopped for at the Dupont Farmer's Market early that morning.  Kate loved the asparagus and the fish.  It was a nice quiet evening with just Kate's Yia Yia and Papou.
Monday morning we got in a quick game of peekaboo with YiaYia and some Greek dancing (video tomorrow!) before heading over to Laurie's house on the way to the airport.
Vance was at work and their oldest son Davis was in school but Adam was around to play with Kate.  He was so gentle with her and quite solicitous, offering her toys, food, balls, pretty much whatever she wanted.  Laurie provided a lunchtime feast before we had to head off to the airport.  The two hours at her house were much too short.

We got to the airport with enough time for a few laps around the waiting area before flying home to Chicago.


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